Formations Summary

January–April 2021

Unit 1: Our Loving, Creating God

Mark Wingfield

Here we are with a brand-new year ahead of us. In our first unit, we’ll reflect on God’s loving work of creation. In unit two, we’ll reflect on the stories Genesis tells us about our earliest ancestors. In our third unit, we’ll reflect on how God comes to us through Christ to teach us the ways of the kingdom and show us the cost of faithfulness to God’s eternal plan. Finally, in unit four we’ll reflect on Christ’s resurrection. Even now, as we still wait to see what the next chapter of our story may bring, we can hold this word in our hearts. Whatever journeys lie before us in 2021, our God goes before us and upholds us in strong and loving arms.

Unit 2: Creation and Fall

Joseph LaGuardia

The Genesis stories of the creation and the fall recount in broad strokes the fundamentals of faith: God creates and provides. Humanity reflects God’s image and God’s care for creation. Temptation and disobedience muddle things along the way. There are consequences, but God works to redeem us. Therefore, this month’s unit contains both good and bad, helping us explore what we celebrate about the human spirit as well as what we mourn about sin and brokenness. The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us. God gives us the ability to create life and work together with both God and other people.

Unit 3: The Word and the Cross

Ronnie McBrayer

We tend to think of Lent as a season to remember the death of Jesus. In fact, that is really only a theme of three significant days at the end of the season: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Over five lessons, Mark will lead us on a Lenten journey of reflection on Jesus’ words and deeds. We’ll hear Jesus use parables to describe the mixed reaction his message received. We’ll see him send his disciples forth to advance his work, and we’ll watch him contend with those who oppose him. We’ll be challenged to consider his ultimate question: “Who do you say that I am?” Finally, we’ll hear this Gospel’s ultimate answer: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Unit 4: Luke’s Easter Stories

Susan Ballenger, Katherine Cook, Phil Nall, Randall Rich, Sharlande Sledge

In his Gospel, Luke shares not only the familiar story of the women at the tomb but also a lengthy narrative, unique to him, of two disciples who meet the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. Luke’s account continues in the book of Acts, where he describes Jesus teaching his disciples for forty days after his resurrection and then being taken up into heaven, leaving his followers with the commission to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Over four weeks, we’ll celebrate the season of resurrection by exploring these Easter stories in Luke and Acts. By God’s grace, we’ll see ourselves in these stories and come to a greater appreciation for the place of the risen Christ in our faith and in our lives.

May–August 2021

Unit 1: Ministries of Healing

LaMon Brown

God has given all of us certain gifts, talents, abilities, and opportunities. These five lessons, leading us to and past Pentecost Sunday, will help us discern why God blesses us in these ways. Our texts will deal first with themes of healing, spiritual and compassionate, then the showing and telling of our stories, and finally the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the unit, we will see that God gifts us through the Holy Spirit so that we will use these gifts for the common good in our church and community, as well as for the glory of God.

Unit 2: The Life of Paul

Abby Thornton Hailey

This unit will explore the life of Paul both through his own words and through the words of those inspired by his ministry and example. Beginning with his conversion, we will see how Paul’s passion for the Torah was rechanneled into passionate advocacy for Jesus. We will see how his commitment to the gospel was challenged by difficult situations in the communities he founded. Finally, we will see Paul at the end of his life, reflecting on the past and reminding a younger brother in the faith of what is ultimately important. Paul’s faith journey not only gives us insight into Christian history but also offers crucial insight into our present journeys.

Unit 3: The Book of Zechariah

Brent A. Newberry

Zechariah is rarely quoted or taught in churches, and it only appears once in the Revised Common Lectionary. Most likely, this is because the book doesn’t lend itself to straightforward teaching, motivational poster quotes, or easy answers. Chock full of visions and oracles, Zechariah requires a deeper understanding of the prophet’s context in order to glean a helpful interpretation. This unit focuses on the first eight chapters of Zechariah, which reveals God’s intentions for Judah and the neighboring nations. In our study, we will find a world as weary and uncertain as our own, and God’s answering message of comfort and hope.

Unit 4: Seasons of Life

T. Wayne Proctor

In these five lessons we will explore the value of the various seasons of life, particularly as they relate to the Christian experience. The Scripture texts we will examine come from the Gospels, wisdom literature, Paul’s letters, and the book of Genesis. The Bible is a book of thousands of stories about life from the womb to the tomb and beyond. It is the book that provides hope beyond the natural seasons—and that hope is in the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. For all things, there is a season, a time to belong, a time to learn, a time to lead, a time to reflect, and a time to bless.